Green Deception and Future Betrayal
By Isaac MacMillen
The environmentalist lobby and their global warming apologist friends have cause to be concerned: as nations begin to line up to offer their economies as sacrifices on the altar of climate change, the cracks are beginning to appear.
So a Hard Left coalition is now going to extreme lengths to ensure that any dissenters who might speak up are silenced before their words catch the winds of change. And they are betraying the trust of millions of American workers in the process.
When Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson first sent a letter to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao calling for an investigation into the Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), he suspected that the coalition's use of pension funds violated ERISA—the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. But the extent of the theft occurring is even broader than first thought.
The INCR, founded in 2003 by the United Nation's Institutional Investor Summit on Climate Risk, now boasts over 70 members who manage a combined $7 trillion in investments. Their membership includes a number of labor unions, state agencies, and even some liberal religious groups. The INCR's annual conference, co-sponsored by UN agencies, is attended by a wide range of hardcore globalists who share the same goals.
The Investor Network on Climate Change is a group that bills itself as a “network of investors that promotes a better understanding of the financial risks and opportunities posed by climate change.” They claim their goal is to invest and manage their assets in ways that will provide good return on investment, with respect to global warming. But the reality is far different.
The true aim of the INCR is to enact environmental and energy policy changes by governments—at the dire risk of worker pension funds. And one need only read between the lines of statements by the members of the network itself to fathom the real intent of their high-risk shell game.
At the 2008 Investor Summit on Climate Risk, ALF-CIO President John Sweeny, a signatory to the INCR, stated the following:
“Executing this strategy [combating global warming by solving the energy crisis] requires developing our current human and financial capital to secure a world we want to live in. Much of that capital is in worker's retirement funds… $5 trillion is invested on behalf of union members.
“These deferred wages of working people are the capital that can fuel the energy economy of the future.
“This is not an issue of trading off investment returns for environmental protection. If we want healthy long term investment returns, we must solve the energy and the environmental crisis.”
Via the INCR, the unions have made significant investments in infrastructure that depends both on the collapse of “old energy” (oil, coal) and the rise of “new energy” (wind, solar) in order for the investments to be profitable. Mr. Sweeny could not have articulated his point more clearly than when he linked healthy investment returns with solving the “energy and environmental crisis” in the above quote. And that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is a clear violation of ERISA's rule for fiduciary responsibility.
Given the well-founded reluctance of the private sector to jump into many of the questionable “alternative energy” projects that groups like the INCR and ALF-CIO depend on for survival, there has been mounting pressure on federal and state governments to take action. Forcing the private sector into compliance via harsh regulations—such as the infamous “cap-and-trade”—or downright refusals to allow the energy industry to expand, as restrictions on drilling off-shore or in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge do, all directly serve the INCR's extremist agenda.
In fact, the INCR's Action Plan specifically urges public policy advocacy by its investors and affiliates, to force government action in the global warming arena. With goals as sweeping as a 60-90 percent cut (relative to 1990) in carbon emissions to a Kyoto-esque international treaty, it is no wonder that the only people who will listen are bureaucrats and politicians who also have a vested politicalinterest in seeing these radical policy changes enacted.
Success of the INCR's Action Plan depends on actions that have yet to be taken by the government. That makes more than a risky investment. That makes it a tool for coercing government policy.
But government dependence is not the only flaw of this investment group; the very science upon which the INCR bases its conclusions—and upon which it will risk retirees' capital—is also shaky. As ALG News reported earlier, an increasing number of scientists who are speaking out against the so-called “established fact” of global warming.
Given these facts, then, it is no surprise that the INCR is so heavily connected to the United Nations, the international organization that through its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—the agency whose computer models project highly controversial “man-made” global warming—to push climate change hysteria the hardest.
The UN connections are disturbing. Essentially, they empower a foreign entity to intervene in U.S. energy affairs and force America to adapt globalist policies, like corporate cap-and-trade—this time by endangering pension funds.
With trillions of dollars invested into highly questionable (to put it mildly) projections for the future, the pressure will be on governments to “bail out” the investors by launching massive “green energy” expansion programs. The political risk of not subsidizing the green industry and allowing retirement funds to disappear will then be far too severe for any politician to accept.
Thus, the INCR and its allies can count on governments already plagued with bailout fever to come to their aid—or risk removal from office.
So why does this all matter so much? Who really cares if a group wants to invest pension funds into what they view as a potential future market? Well, it matters because America is a nation of laws. And everyone should really care because if the INCR is allowed to break those laws, it could leave pensioners dead broke.
As Bill Wilson noted in his letter, ERISA prohibits the use of pension funds for anything other than the “exclusive purpose of providing benefits to participants and their beneficiaries [and] defraying reasonable expenses of administering the plan.” And unless that law is enforced, those who can afford it least will be hurt most.
The evidence is clear. The INCR, labor unions, several states, and their friends at the UN don't really care about the ROI of pension funds. They are only using them as a tool, a pawn, in their quest to force governments—specifically, the U.S. government—into bowing in submission to the Cult of Global Warming.
It is time for the Department of Labor to stand up for workers' rights, to protect them against the unions and corporations that would take pensioners' hard-earned dollars and throw them down at the altar of global warming. The cracks are glaring. And the new Secretary of Labor must act when confirmed, before it is too late, to protect the retirements of millions of Americans from becoming the tool of a radical political agenda that grows more controversial with every passing day and chill wind.
Isaac MacMillen is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.